Random Thought:

"Never ask for an easy life. Ask for the strength to get through it."

~Wayne Hage Jr.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Work

I just completed 3 months of U.S. Census phone surveys.  One of the questions I was routinely asked was "How many hours did you work last week at your primary job?  How many hours did your husband work at his primary job?"  WE live on a ranch.  I am a cowgirl.  The Cowboss is a cowboy.  Do you think they would believe me if I responded with "Well, there are 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day, so I guess 168 hours?"

While we may not have been physically working on the ranch, we were on call that entire time.  For me this is a very hard question to answer.  Do I just account for the hours of physical labor?  What about the bookkeeping aspect of it, or even just the hours I spend thinking about my ranch job?  Things like figuring how much to feed each cow or horse, and how much hay we need to get through the winter, or what vaccines we need to give and how many doses we need to purchase, or even what jobs I need to complete here on the ranch.

Ranching isn't a 9 to 5 Monday through Friday job with a 40 hour work week.  We don't get a time card to punch when we get to and leave work.  We don't have weekends off or vacations.  If we take a trip away from the ranch we spend that time worrying about what is going on at the ranch.

Why do it?  I have a college degree and can have a job anywhere with better hours and better pay.  The Cowboss could get a job at the mine, work 15 days a month and make significantly more money.  We could both drive brand new vehicles and have a brand new horse trailer.  We could go home a the end of the day and not think about our jobs.

On the other hand, we wouldn't be able to take our boys to work with us whenever it strikes our fancy.  We wouldn't have the teaching opportunities to teach things that are important to us, like work ethic, compassion, or the cycle of life that ranch living grants us.  We wouldn't be able to stop in the middle of work to watch a cow calve, cranes dance, baby geese swimming, or even a coyote hunting mice in a ditch.  I really don't know why people would want to work anywhere else!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Menu Monday

Today started off with me working on my weekly menu plan.  That fell by the wayside as the day happened and after working on taxes, sales and use tax, some bills and a trip to Hunter.  I am just now finishing up my menu.

Weekly Menu.  I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, so here is a link to my Weekly Menu Board where I have pinned a few recipes that I want to try this week.

Monday:
Leftovers (I kind of forgot I had a meeting tonight, and didn't get anything in the crockpot before I left this morning).

Tuesday:
Italian Drip Beef
Cabbage Salad
Sourdough Biscuits

Wednesday:
French Dip Sandwiches
Butternut Squash
Green Salad

Thursday:
Crock Pot Meatloaf
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Jello Salad

Friday and Saturday:
Branding Calves in Mountain City

Sunday:
Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak
Ranch Potatoes
Sourdough Biscuits.

If you haven't noticed, there are 2 things my family likes.  Meat and Sourdough Biscuits.  It has taken me a year, but I have finally mastered sourdough biscuits.

Today's Meat Eater Monday Recipe:

Tri Tip.  One of my absolute favorite cuts of beef.  I found this recipe on Pinterest awhile back for Santa Maria Tri Tip Roast and thought it sounded good.  This is my spin on it.

Ingredients:

1 Tri Tip Roast

Dry Rub
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar

Basting Sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 cloves crushed garlic

Directions:

Preheat broiler to high.  Combine all dry rub ingredients and rub on beef.  Add basting sauce ingredients to remaining rub.  Place meat on a broiler pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning then basting every 3-4 minutes, until center of meat reaches your desired doneness.

Very easy and very good!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sometimes A Mom.....

just needs a long hot shower without someone pounding on the door every 2 minutes or flushing the toilet!

to take the outside circle on a long trot with a green horse, and maybe her dog.  NO ONE ELSE!

an hour without the question why?

an hour where "Because I said so" is sufficient.

a nap!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

So Glad March is Over!

I don't know about you, but I hated the month of March.  I am so glad it is over.  It was a pretty hard month here.  I had to put my favorite horse down (more on that on a later post, I'm still getting over that), the boy's dog ate Ivermec horse wormer and tried to die, we lost a calf, and the list goes on and on.  I might also mention, in going out like a lion we got more snow the last week of March than we did all winter.  I've been discouraged, in a funk, and not wanting to do much of anything.  But life must go on and what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, so it's time to get my act together!


I've started trying to meal plan.  I'm going on week two now and I think I am getting the hang of it, somewhat!  My biggest problem is I never know where we will be or how the day will go, so there have been a few days that the plan has had to change last minute.  Since I can't see into the future, I can't determine which days work will go long.  The biggest benefit I have seen though is when it comes to grocery shopping. If I have my weekly menu planned out before I go grocery shopping, I am guaranteed to have the ingredients I need to make what I want, and not being at the last minute scrambling to figure out what to make for dinner and not having anything to cook with.  Nothing frustrates me more than to know what I want to cook, then find out I am out of a key ingredient.

I am also trying to utilize my crockpot more on the days I know I won't have time to actually cook a meal.  I teach class 2 nights a week, so I know those nights I can't cook a meal.  Having a plan seems to be making a big difference for me.  It also takes away some of the anxiety I have with cooking a meal for a family.

This morning I made strawberry scones.  They aren't the prettiest scones I've seen, but they aren't half bad. The nice thing, is you can do most of the prep the night before.  If your stove is anything like mine, you will have plenty of time to throw these together while your oven preheats.


Jennifer's Strawberry Scones

Ingredients:
1 1/3 c. Flour
3 T. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 c. Heavy Cream
1/2 c. chopped Strawberries
Coarse Sugar for Sprinkling

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 400*.
2.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add strawberries and cream.  Stir until dough comes together.
3.  Drop by large spoonful onto a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or golden.
Enjoy!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentines Day Meat Eater Monday Style!



Nothing says I love you in our house, quite like a home cooked meal with lots of bacon!  We don't do flowers and candy on Valentines Day, we do food and tack!  Lucky for me, the March editions of my Food Network Magazine (thanks to my sister!) is dedicated to this glorious meat!  They have everything from bacon trivia, gag gifts, and even tips on how to cook bacon.  They even had a fabulous recipe for Bacon-Pineapple- Upside-Down Cake, which I blew up my news feed on Facebook, instagram, and twitter with!

Valentines Day falls on a Friday this year, so besides being a busy night to try and go out to dinner in town anyway, it will be nearly impossible to get in somewhere good to eat.  Throw 2 wild little boys into the mix, and you guessed it, it's much easier to just stay home.  So, like every other Friday night, I will be cooking dinner.  The only difference is that I am planning ahead this time.  Most nights I look at the clock and think Shoot!  It's 4:00!  What am I going to make for dinner?!

The best part of my menu is that most of it can be made ahead, so I won't have to spend all day Friday in the kitchen.

The Menu
Bacon Stuffed Potatoes
Bacon Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast
Haricorts Verts with Pancetta
Sourdough Biscuits
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad


Dessert
Red Velvet Cake


Bacon Stuffed Potatoes  (Food Network Magazine, March 2014 edition)
Toss 1 pound baby potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake at 450* 20 minutes.  Let cool.  Halve and scoop out flesh.  Mash flesh with 2 tbsp. each butter and sour cream, add 3 slices cooked bacon crumpled.  Stuff into potatoes and top with shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake 5 more minutes.

Bacon-Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast  (Food Network Magazine, March 2014 edition)
1/4 c. blackberry preserves (I'm going to substitute raspberry because that is what I have)
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and pepper
1 4-5 lb. boneless center-cut pork loin, trimmed
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 red onions, quartered
8 slices bacon
2 tbsp. Wondra
3 c. chicken broth

1.  Combine first 5 ingredients (only 1 tbsp. vinegar) in a bowl.  Poke the pork in a few spots with a paring knife, then rub with the garlic.  Rub the pork all over with preserves mixture, transfer to  a large resealable bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
2.  About 20 minutes before roasting, remove the pork from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325*.  Put the red onions in a metal roasting pan and set a rack on top.  Wrap the pork with the bacon, then set on the rack.  Roast until the bacon is crisp and a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145*, about 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer to a cutting board, let rest 10 minutes.  (I know you are thinking pork should be cooked longer because it should be an internal temperature of 160*, but the pork will continue cooking after removed from the oven)!
3.  Meanwhile, make the gravy:  Discard all but 2 tbsp. of the drippings from the pan.  (Place onions in a serving dish).  Place the roasting pan over 2 burners over med-low heat ans whisk in the flour until incorporated.  Add the chicken broth and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp. vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
4.  Slice the pork and serve with onions and gravy.

Haricots Verts with Pancetta  (Food Network Magazine, March 2014 edition)
kosher salt
1 3/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
4 oz. pancetta , diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c. bread crumbs

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender.  Drain, then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Drain again, then transfer to paper towels and pat dry.
2.  Cook the pancetta in a large skillet over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  Remove to paper towels using a slotted spoon.  Add the garlic to the drippings and cook till golden.  Add the bread crumbs and cook, until toasted.
3.  Add the green beans to the skillet and cook until evenly coated.  Stir in pancetta and season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy, Happy Valentines Day!